INJURY-RIDDLED Saint Dan Hannebery is eyeing a return to running early next month as he overcomes a broken foot that has delayed yet another pre-season campaign.
Reduced to five games in his first season at Moorabbin in 2019 after a series of soft tissue injuries, Hannebery's latest setback is set to cost him more than six weeks of running.
The former Swan was an onlooker as more than half of the Saints' squad returned to training with a 3km time trial on Monday, with midfielder Ed Phillips winning ahead of Doulton Langlands.
It’s time trial time at @stkildafc... Ed Phillips winning ahead of Langlands, Battle, Ross, Sinclair. Dougal Howard lapped in first session at the club.— Mitch Cleary (@cleary_mitch) November 17, 2019
No Hill, Jones, Ryder, Steele, Billings, King, Geary, Roberton @AFLcomau pic.twitter.com/clBDq6dBlz
Only two of the Saints' five big-name recruits took part, with premiership Tiger Dan Butler in mid-pack and key back Dougal Howard last, lapped on the 400m track by the top two.
Hannebery then fronted the cameras to explain how his nightmare of 2019 continued into the off-season while holidaying in Perth in mid-October.
Dan Hannebery at Monday's session.
"It was a bizarre accident. (I was) at my sister's fiance's place, he's renovating his backyard and there's a big, large step," Hannebery said.
"As I went to step off the balcony onto the asphalt, I did a pretty simple ankle roll, my weight shifted forward and straight away felt a crack.
"I tried to walk on it I and I knew I was in a little bit of trouble.
"It was really flattening, especially given last year's injury troubles.
"I was feeling really good and well into my running program and it shouldn't put too much (of a) dint on pre-season, considering I wasn't going to do a hell of a lot pre-Christmas, I was going to get managed and looked after a little bit.
"I've got a carbon plate in my shoe now so I'm able to walk around in the runners and hopefully start running in a couple of weeks."
Ben Long after the 3km time trial.
Hannebery will target a heavy load of running over the Christmas break in the hope of being fit to play in St Kilda's Marsh Community Series opener on February 20.
Delisted Saint Paddy McCartin and last year's No.4 pick Max King were among the other watchers at the Moorabbin Athletics track on Monday morning.
Defender Josh Battle, reigning best and fairest Seb Ross and forward Jack Sinclair rounded out the top five, while veteran Nathan Brown impressed with a top-10 finish.
Second-year midfielder Jack Bytel also delivered a strong time after a 2019 season ruined by a back injury.
Captain Jarryn Geary and returning defender Dylan Roberton completed their own early session before the time trial.
The majority of the group then made their way to Sandringham's Trevor Barker Oval, joined by Zak Jones, Paddy Ryder and Bradley Hill as the trio of recruits completed individual running.
Hill's medical at the Saints prior to his move from Fremantle identified meniscus damage in his knee which will be managed throughout the early stages of summer.
Jack Steele (knee), Matthew Parker, Jake Carlisle and Jack Billings were among others training away from the time trial participants.